GENEVA, March 15 (Xinhua) -- China will recover quickly from the COVID-19 outbreak and is already planning for the next five years in terms of its economic development, according to Ashish Shah, director of the Division of Country Programmes at the International Trade Centre (ITC).
"A country like China is already thinking and planning for the next 5 years, and taking into account what has happened in the outbreak," said Shah, in a recent interview with Xinhua, noting that as production is resuming in many Chinese provinces, "the economy has started going back on track."
The ITC, the only development agency that is fully dedicated to supporting the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations.
Shah expressed ITC's solidarity with the Chinese government, speaking highly of the effective measures put in place in its fighting against COVID-19.
However, he pointed out, the on-going pandemic poses harsh challenges to the global value chain, since the countries most affected represent a large proportion of world economy.
"The ten most affected countries represent about 60 percent of global trade, 65 percent of manufacturing...Germany, the United States and China are the three biggest leaders of global value chains, so if these three countries are affected, automatically the global value chain will be affected."
He elaborated that on the supply side, the manufacturing output of February was extremely low in China, and the same is expected in Europe during March and April. Meanwhile, the demand side is also in plunge, as people's incomes have been affected by the downturn of the economy.
As a result, developing countries and SMEs will bear disproportionate effects, he said, for many developing countries are export-oriented markets and a part of the global value chain. The lack of demand could be particularly fatal to SMEs, as they do not have enough cash flow to withstand the halt of production for months as large enterprises do.
"If there is anything positive coming out of this, there might be new opportunities for regional trade, with regional value chains becoming stronger," he said. And the lesson learned is that in the future, focus should be put on how to enhance the resilience of SMEs when facing turbulence in the environment.
As part of the coordinated response to the effects of COVID-19 in China, ITC launched ITC-China Month, a training program aiming at introducing technological tools and products to academics, government sectors and SMEs.
Promoting the utilization of technological innovations, the programme reached out to a large population in China, shared the ITC free tools online, presented ITC agendas on trade, and demonstrated how to maintain activities via video conference during an emergency situation, said Shah.
Before that, ITC had been working closely with China's Ministry of Commerce in the hosting and preparation of the 2nd China International Import Expo (CIIE) in 2019, the largest international import expo in the world. Last year, ITC invited 84 companies to CIIE.